More extreme and unusual weather in 2017: WMO

In this image provided by the National Snow and Ice Data Center and NASA, shows how low sea ice levels were in the Arctic this winter, alarming climate scientists. During the winter, Arctic sea ice grew to 5.57 million square miles (14.42 million square kilometers) at its peak, but that’s the smallest amount of winter sea ice in 38 years of record keeping, beating the record set in 2015 and tied last year. Sea ice in March of this year was smaller than last year by an area about the size of the state of Maine.   | Photo Credit: AP

Extreme weather and climate conditions, including Arctic “heatwaves”, have continued into 2017, after global temperatures set record last year and the world witnessed exceptionally low sea ice and unabated ocean heat, the UN weather agency said.

While global temperatures hit a remarkable 1.1 degree- Celsius above the pre-industrial period, global sea-level touch record highs and the planet’s sea-ice coverage dropped more than four million square kilometres below average in November — an unprecedented anomaly for that month, according to the World Meteorological Organisation’s (WMO) statement on the state of the Global Climate in 2016.

“This increase in global temperature is consistent with other changes occurring in the climate system,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said.

“With levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere consistently breaking new records, the influence of human activities on the climate system has become more and more evident,” Taalas said.

Each of the year since 2001 has seen at least 0.4 degree—Celsius above the long-term average for the 1961—1990 base period, used by the UN agency as a reference for climate change monitoring.

The 2016 heating was further boosted by the powerful El Nieather system, during which global sea-level also rose very strongly.

Similarly, carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere reached the symbolic benchmark of 400 parts per millions in 2015 — the latest year for which WMO global figures are available — and will not fall below that level for many generations to come because of the long-lasting nature of CO2.

“The extreme weather patterns are continuing in 2017 adding that at least three times so far this winter, the Arctic saw what can be called the Polar equivalent of a heatwave, with powerful Atlantic storms driving an influx of warm, moist air,” WMO said.

“This meant that at the height of the Arctic winter and the sea ice refreezing period, there were days which were actually close to melting point,” it said.

In the US alone, 11,743 warm temperature records were broken or tied in February, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the UN agency.

“Even without a strong El Nin 2017, we are seeing other remarkable changes across the planet that are challenging the limits of our understanding of the climate system,” said World Climate Research Programme Director David Carlson.

“We are now in truly uncharted territory,” Mr. Carlson added.

The extreme climate conditions also added to human suffering as 2016 saw severe droughts, affecting millions in southern and eastern African and Central America.

In the midst of such challenges, Taalas underlined the importance of implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change, which also entered into force last year.

“The entry into force of the Paris Agreement on 4 November 2016 represents a historic landmark,” he said, adding that it is vital that its implementation becomes a reality and that the Agreement guides the global community in addressing climate change by curbing greenhouse gases, fostering climate resilience and mainstreaming climate adaptation into national development policies.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 5:35:50 AM |

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